HANOI, November 19, 2013 – Social work students at universities throughout Vietnam will soon have access to new curricula on social support for drugs users that will increase their knowledge, skills and ability to provide counseling and more effective case management services for drug users in Vietnam. The Department of Social Work of the University of Labor and Social Affairs gathered stakeholders from local universities and international agencies to present the new curricula on “Drug and Society,” “Drug Addiction Treatment Counseling,” and “Case Management for Drug Users.” Drawing on funding support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and technical expertise from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), FHI 360 and Atlantic Philanthropies partnered with the University of Labor and Social Affairs to develop the new curricula. The social work field is still very new in Vietnam and was only recently officially recognized as a profession in 2012.
“Sharing needles for drug use is the main cause of HIV transmission in Vietnam and drug users still face unrelenting discrimination from society, family, and friends. Consequently, they often have nowhere to turn for social support and help with their addiction,” said Dr. Michelle McConnell, Country Director of U.S. CDC. “This new set of curricula will better equip university students with the knowledge and skills to treat drug addiction and ensure they are qualified to help treat drug users upon entering the workforce.”
“It will give students a scientific and comprehensive perspective on drug addiction as well as applicable tools to work with drug users effectively. It not only serves as excellent teaching material, but also as a valuable reference for counselors and case managers working with clients,” said Dr. Bui Thi Xuan Mai, Head of the Department of Social Work at the University of Labor and Social Affairs.
There are an estimated 250,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Vietnam and approximately one-third of those infections resulted from sharing needles for drug use. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Agency for International Development are public health agencies of the U.S. Mission in Vietnam and in partnership with the Government of Vietnam, provide expert science-based technical assistance to strengthen the Vietnam national health system.